Cardinal Sarah Rejects Fiducia Supplicans

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

by Robert Sarah

Rome, 6 January 2024, feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

At Christmas, the Prince of Peace became a man for us. To every man of good will he brings the peace that comes from Heaven. “I leave you peace, I give you my peace. Not as the world gives, so do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The peace that Jesus brings us is not an empty cloud, it is not worldly peace which is often just an ambiguous compromise, negotiated between the interests and lies of each one. The peace of God is truth. “Truth is the strength of peace, because it reveals and completes the unity of man with God, with himself, with others. The truth strengthens peace and builds peace”, taught Saint John Paul II [1]. The Truth made flesh has come to live among men. Its light does not disturb. His word does not sow confusion and disorder, but reveals the reality of all things. He “is” the truth and therefore is a “sign of contradiction” and “unveils the thoughts of many hearts” (Lk 2,34-35).

The truth is the first of the mercies that Jesus offers to the sinner. Will we in turn be able to do a work of mercy in truth? For us, there is a great risk in seeking world peace, worldly popularity which is purchased at the price of lies, ambiguity and complicit silence.

This world peace is false and superficial. Because lies, compromise and confusion generate division, suspicion and war between brothers. Pope Francis recently recalled this: “Devil means ‘divider’. The devil always wants to create division” [2]. The devil divides because “there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks what belongs to him, because he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

It is precisely confusion, the lack of clarity and truth and division that have disturbed and darkened this year’s Christmas celebration. Some media outlets assert that the Catholic Church encourages the blessing of same-sex unions. They lie. They do the work of the divider. Some bishops go in the same direction, sowing doubt and scandal in the souls of the faithful by claiming to bless homosexual unions as if they were legitimate, in conformity with the nature created by God, as if they could lead to holiness and human happiness. They only generate errors, scandals, doubts and disappointments. These bishops ignore or forget the severe warning of Jesus against those who scandalize the little ones: “Whoever scandalizes one of these little ones who believe in me, it is better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the depths of the sea” (Mt 18.6). A recent statement from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, published with the approval of Pope Francis, was unable to correct these errors and act as a work of truth. Furthermore, with its lack of clarity, it has only amplified the confusion that reigns in hearts and some have even seized upon it to support their attempt at manipulation.

What to do in the face of the confusion that the divider has sown in the heart of the Church? “You can’t argue with the devil!”, said Pope Francis. “He There is no negotiation, there is no dialogue; you can’t defeat him by dealing with him, he is stronger than us. We defeat the devil by opposing the divine Word to him with faith. In this way Jesus teaches us to defend unity with God and among ourselves from the attacks of the divider. The divine Word is Jesus’ response to the temptation of the devil” [3]. In the logic of this teaching of Pope Francis, we too do not argue with the divider. We do not enter into discussion with the declaration “Fiducia supplicans”, nor with its various uses that we have seen multiply. We simply respond with the Word of God and with the magisterium and traditional teaching of the Church.

To maintain peace and unity in truth, we must refuse to argue with the divider, we must respond to confusion with the word of God. For “the word of God is living, effective, and sharper than any double-edged sword; it penetrates to the dividing point of the soul and spirit, to the joints and marrow, and discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12).

Like Jesus in front of the Samaritan woman, we dare to tell the truth. “You said it right: ‘I have no husband’. For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband; in this you spoke the truth” (Jn 4:18). What to say to people involved in homosexual unions? Like Jesus, we dare the first of mercies: the objective truth of deeds.

With the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2357), we can therefore state: « Homosexuality designates relationships between men or women who experience a sexual attraction, exclusive or predominant, towards people of the same sex. It manifests itself in very varied forms over the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychic genesis remains largely unexplained. Relying on Sacred Scripture (cf. Gen 19.1-29; Rom 1.24-27; 1 Cor 6.10; 1 Tim 1.10), which presents homosexual relations as serious depravities, Tradition has always declared that ‘acts of homosexuality are intrinsically disordered’ (CDF, ​​declaration ‘Persona humana’ 8). They are against natural law. They preclude the gift of life from the sexual act. They are not the fruit of true emotional and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Any pastoral approach that does not recall this objective truth would fail in the first work of mercy which is the gift of truth. This objectivity of truth is not contrary to attention paid to people’s subjective intention. But the masterly and definitive teaching of Saint John Paul II must be recalled here:

“It is necessary to carefully consider the correct relationship that exists between freedom and human nature, and in particular the place that the human body has in questions of natural law. […]

“The person, including the body, is entrusted entirely to himself, and it is in the unity of the soul and the body that he is the subject of his own moral acts. The person, through the light of reason and the support of virtue, discovers in his body the anticipatory signs, the expression and promise of the gift of self, in conformity with the wise plan of the Creator. […]

“A doctrine that dissociates the moral act from the corporeal dimensions of its exercise is contrary to the teachings of Sacred Scripture and Tradition: this doctrine revives, in new forms, some old errors always fought by the Church, as they reduce the human person to a ‘spiritual’ freedom, purely formal. This reduction ignores the moral significance of the body and the behaviors that refer to it (cf. 1Cor 6,19). The apostle Paul declares that ‘immorals, idolaters, adulterers, effeminates, sodomites, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and extortioners’ are excluded from the Kingdom of heaven (cf. 1Cor 6,9-10). This condemnation – endorsed by the Council of Trent – lists as ‘mortal sins’, or ‘infamous practices’, some specific behaviors whose voluntary acceptance prevents believers from having part in the promised inheritance. In fact, body and soul are inseparable: in the person, in the voluntary agent and in the deliberate act, they are or are lost together” (“Veritatis splendor” 48-49).

But a disciple of Jesus cannot stop here. Faced with the adulterous woman, Jesus works for forgiveness in truth: «Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more from now on” (Jn 8:11). He offers a path of conversion, of life in truth.

The declaration “Fiducia supplicans” writes that the blessing is instead intended for people who « beg that everything that is truly good and humanly valid in their life and relationships be invested, healed and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. » (n. 31). But what is good, true and humanly valid in a homosexual relationship, defined by the Holy Scriptures and Tradition as a serious and “intrinsically disordered” depravity? How can such a text correspond to the Book of Wisdom which states: “Distorted reasoning separates us from God; but power, when tested, displaces fools. Wisdom does not enter a soul that does evil nor dwells in a body oppressed by sin. The holy spirit, who teaches, flees all deception” (Sp 1,3-5). The only thing to ask of people who live in an unnatural relationship is to convert and conform to the Word of God.

With the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2358-2359), we can clarify further by saying: “A non-negligible number of men and women have deeply rooted homosexual tendencies. This inclination, objectively disordered, constitutes a test for most of them. Therefore they must be welcomed with respect, compassion and delicacy. In their regard, any sign of unfair discrimination will be avoided. Such people are called to carry out the will of God in their lives, and, if they are Christians, to unite the difficulties they may encounter as a consequence of their condition to the sacrifice of the cross of the Lord. Homosexual people are called to chastity. Through the virtues of self-mastery, educators of interior freedom, through the support, at times, of a disinterested friendship, with prayer and sacramental grace, they can and must, gradually and resolutely, approach Christian perfection”.

As Benedict XVI recalled, « as human beings, homosexual people deserve respect; […] should not be rejected for this reason. Respect for human beings is absolutely fundamental and decisive. But that doesn’t mean that’s why homosexuality is right. Something remains that is radically opposed to the very essence of what God originally wanted.”

The Word of God transmitted by Sacred Scripture and Tradition is therefore the only solid foundation, the only foundation of truth on which every episcopal conference must be able to build a pastoral care of mercy and truth towards homosexual people. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers us a powerful synthesis, it responds to the desire of the Second Vatican Council “to lead all men, by making the truth of the Gospel shine, to seek and welcome the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge” [4] .

I must thank the episcopal conferences that have already carried out this work of truth, in particular those of Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, etc., whose decisions and firm opposition to the “Fiducia supplicans” declaration I share and make my own. We must encourage other national or regional bishops’ conferences and every bishop to do the same. By doing so, we are not opposing Pope Francis, but we are firmly and radically opposing a heresy that seriously undermines the Church, the Body of Christ, because it is contrary to the Catholic faith and Tradition.

Benedict XVI underlined that “the notion of ‘homosexual marriage’ is in contradiction with all the cultures of humanity that have followed one another up to today and therefore means a cultural revolution that is opposed to the entire tradition of humanity up to today” . I believe that the Church of Africa is keenly aware of this. It does not forget the essential mission that the last popes have entrusted to it. Pope Paul VI, addressing the African bishops gathered in Kampala in 1969, declared: “’Nova Patria Christi Africa’: the new homeland of Christ is Africa”. Pope Benedict XVI, on two occasions, entrusted Africa with an enormous mission: that of being the spiritual lung of humanity for the incredible human and spiritual richness of its children, of its cultures. He said in the homily of 4 October 2009: “Africa represents an immense spiritual ‘lung’ for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope. But this ‘lung’ can also get sick. And at the moment at least two dangerous pathologies are affecting it: first of all, a disease already widespread in the Western world, that is, practical materialism, combined with relativist and nihilistic thinking. […] The so-called ‘first’ world has sometimes exported and is exporting toxic spiritual waste, which infects the populations of other continents, including those in Africa in particular” [5].

John Paul II reminded Africans that they must participate in the suffering and passion of Christ for the salvation of humanity, because “the name of each African is written on the crucified palms of Christ” [6] .

His providential mission today is perhaps to remind the West that man is nothing without woman, woman is nothing without man and both are nothing without this third element which is the child. Saint Paul VI had underlined “the irreplaceable contribution of the traditional values ​​of this continent: the spiritual vision of life, respect for human dignity, the sense of family and community” (“Africae terrarum” 8-12). The Church in Africa lives on this legacy. Because of Christ and because of her fidelity to his teaching and her life lesson, it is impossible for her to accept inhuman ideologies promoted by a de-Christianized and decadent West.

Africa has a keen awareness of the necessary respect for nature created by God. It is not a question of open-mindedness and social progress as the Western media claims. It is a question of whether our sexual bodies are the gift of the Creator’s wisdom or a meaningless, if not artificial, reality. But here too Benedict XVI warns us: “When we renounce the idea of ​​creation, we renounce the greatness of man.” The Church of Africa in the last synod forcefully defended the dignity of man and woman created by God. Her voice is often ignored, despised or considered excessive by those whose only obsession is to please Western lobbies.

The Church of Africa is the voice of the poor, the simple and the small. It has the task of announcing the Word of God in front of Western Christians who, because they are rich, equipped with multiple skills in philosophy, theological, biblical and canonical sciences, believe they are evolved, modern and wise in the wisdom of the world. But “that which is the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Cor 1:25). It is therefore not surprising that the bishops of Africa, in their poverty, are today the heralds of this divine truth in the face of the power and wealth of some Western episcopates. Because “God has chosen the one who is foolish to the world to confound the wise; he who is weak to the world, God has chosen to confound the strong; what is ignoble and despised by the world, what is nothing, God has chosen to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one can boast before God” (1Cor 1,27-28). But will we have the courage to listen to them in the next session of the Synod on synodality? Or should we believe that, despite promises to listen and respect, their warnings will not be taken into account, as we see today? “Beware of men” (Mt 10:17), says the Lord Jesus, because all this confusion, aroused by the declaration “Fiducia supplicans”, could reappear under other more subtle and more hidden formulations in the second session of the Synod on synodality, in 2024 , or in the arguments of those who help the Holy Father write the post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Didn’t Satan tempt the Lord Jesus three times? We will have to be vigilant about the manipulations and projects that some are already preparing for this next session of the Synod.

Every successor of the apostles must dare to take seriously the words of Jesus: «Let your speech be: ‘Yes, yes’, ‘No, no’; anything more comes from the Evil One” (Mt 5.37). The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers us the example of such a clear, sharp and courageous word. Any other path would inevitably be truncated, ambiguous and misleading. At this moment we hear many speeches so subtle and twisted that they end up falling under this curse pronounced by Jesus: “Whatever is more comes from the Evil One”. New meanings of words are invented, Scripture is contradicted and falsified while claiming to be faithful to it. We end up no longer serving the truth.

Also allow me not to fall into idle quibbles regarding the meaning of the word blessing. It is obvious that we can pray for the sinner, it is obvious that we can ask God for his conversion. It is obvious that we can bless the man who, little by little, turns to God to humbly ask for the grace of a true and radical change in his life. The prayer of the Church is not denied to anyone. But it can never be diverted into a legitimation of sin, of the structure of sin, or even of the proximate occasion of sin. The contrite and penitent heart, even if it is still far from holiness, must be blessed. But let us remember that, faced with the refusal of conversion and the rigidity, no word of blessing comes from the mouth of Saint Paul but rather this warning: “You, with your hard and obstinate heart, store up anger on yourself for the day of the wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will repay each person according to his works’” (Rom 2:5-6).

It is up to us to be faithful to the One who told us: “For this I came into the world: to bear witness to the truth. Whoever is of the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37). It is up to us as bishops, as priests, as baptized people to bear witness to the truth in our turn. If we do not dare to be faithful to the word of God, we not only betray Him, but we also betray those to whom we turn. The freedom we must offer to people living in homosexual unions lies in the truth of God’s word. How could we dare make them believe that it would be good and wanted by God for them to remain in the prison of their sin? « If you remain in my word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8,31-32).

So let us not be afraid if we are not understood and approved by the world. Jesus told us: “The world hates me, because I testify of it that its works are evil” (Jn 7:7). Only those who belong to the truth can hear his voice. It is not up to us to be approved and have unanimity.

Let us remember the grave warning of Pope Francis at the beginning of his pontificate: «We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, the thing is not right. We will become a welfare NGO, but not the Church, Bride of the Lord… What happens when you don’t build on stones? What happens to children on the beach happens when they make sand palaces, everything falls away, it is without consistency. When one does not confess Jesus Christ, Léon Bloy’s phrase comes to mind: ‘He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil’. When you do not confess Jesus Christ, you confess the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the devil” (14 March 2013).

A word from Christ will judge us: “He who is of God listens to the words of God. This is why you do not listen: because you are not of God” (Jn 8:47).

*

[1] John Paul II, Message for the International Day of Peace, 1 January 1980.
[2] Pope Francis, Angelus of 26 February 2023.
[3] Angelus of February 26, 2023.
[4] John Paul II, apostolic constitution “Fidei depositum”.
[5] Benedict XVI, Opening homily of the second special assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, 4 October 2009. He will use the same expression “Africa, spiritual lung of humanity” in “Africae munus”, n. 13.
[6] John Paul II, “Ecclesia in Africa”, n. 143.

 

Source: Diakonos

 

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